Tiger Woods Isn't Back...
Posted on June 30 2018
Golf fans around the world had more of a reason to be excited about this season than the last few. For the first time in years, the PGA Tour was expected to have a healthy Tiger Woods competing once again. If he could return to form—well, the PGA Tour is simply better with a competitive Tiger Woods on it.
With each round he played starting with the Hero World Challenge back in December, the golf-loving world watched. Half of them hoped to see the once great Tiger reemerge and dominate the golf course. The other half wanted to see him fall back down once again.
A 65 in the second round of the Hero World Challenge gave his fans hope that this could be the year. For the four-round unofficial event, he finished 8-under which was good enough to tie for ninth.
Fast forward to the Valspar Championship where he finishes tied for second, and the world is suddenly ready to proclaim that he’s back—five tournaments into his return. He didn’t win anything and hadn’t led at any point in the tournaments he had played.
Somehow, that was enough for some to say the once great Tiger Woods was great again. Vegas even named him the favorite to win the Masters. He didn’t, of course, recording a score of 1-over for the tournament (tied for 32nd).
Apparently, he’s not back.
That became more apparent when he finished tied for 55th (2-over) at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Many still held out hope for his possible return to greatness. But more doubt began to creep into the storyline for Tiger. The tale wasn’t overly impressive when he barely made the cut for the Players Championship. But then he hit a 65 on Day Three and finished with 69.
He didn’t win (tied for 11th), but he got something more important—confidence.
"I got my playing feels back, and it's just a matter of playing and executing and putting the shots together."
That sounds good. But a win would sound better— which he had an honest shot at Memorial last week. He didn’t move into a tie on top of the leaderboard during the third round for long. But he did, and for a moment he was back on top.
But a couple of bogeys on the back nine Saturday knocked him down a few pegs (tied for seventh), and he finished on Sunday with a 72. For the tournament, he finished tied for 23rd (9-under). But once again, he was confident about his game (ESPN):
"…. Overall my game is where it needs to be heading into the U.S. Open, and that's something that's very positive.
“I just need to hit better putts. This week I didn't feel comfortable with my lines and my feel was a little bit off. Consequently, I missed a bunch of putts. But I hit it really good this week, so that's a positive going into Shinnecock, where ball striking is going to be a must.''
The Tour’s next major, the U.S. Open, is right around the corner. Should he play well at the St. Jude Classic this week, he’ll like be among the favorites heading into the Open. But fans should pump the breaks a little on their expectations.
He said it himself after Memorial—he needs reps.
“I've just got to get more comfortable with my lines and make sure I'm consistent with my lines. But it's just reps. As soon as I get the reps in, I'll be alright.”
Even the best need time to work their way back into playing shape after a layoff—and his layoff was pretty long. Once he gets enough rounds under his belt and works the kinks out, the new and improved Tiger will emerge.
That could happen next week, next month, or maybe not until next year. But it will happen.